Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson on Friday challenged the newly inaugurated chairmen of 8 Local Government Caretaker Committees and their vice, (who are all females) to sanitize the administration of their councils with particular focus on payroll fraud and absenteeism.
He also mandated them to liaise with security agencies and community leaders, with a view to checking the issues of kidnapping, sea piracy and other criminal activities in their areas.
They are Chief Walter Kuroaghofa- Benwari -Nembe, Mr. Bello Bina-Brass, Mr. Michael Magbisa- Sagbama, Mr. Joshua Macaiver- Southern Ijaw, Mr. Oforji Oboku-Yenagoa, Ebianga Ogai-Ogbia, Mr. Wisdom Fafi-Kolokum/Opokuma and Mr. Tolu Amatu for Ekeremor.
Dickson, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Markson-Iworiso, during the ceremony held in Government House, Yenagoa, described as unacceptable, the situation whereby LG council workers were being owed salaries for over 5 months.
He urged the caretaker committee chairmen to work closely with the state verification team, Local Government Service Commission and Ministry of Local Government Administration to address the problem, noting that, the government would direct the State House of Assembly to support the existing agencies to exercise greater and regular oversight functions in the councils.
The governor said, “A number of you have passed through the local government system and you are already familiar with it. In most of your councils, workers have not been paid for up to 8 months and that is not acceptable. We, as a government, are also doing verification exercise in the state and our policy is that our payroll must be cleaned up for us to begin the process of paying because we don’t want to pay ghost workers. States do not have money and so are local government councils; allocations of states and councils have dropped dramatically.”
As chief security officers of the third tier of government, Governor Dickson said, the chairmen were expected to convene Security Council meetings monthly to review the security situation in their areas and furnish the state government with regular reports.
The Governor explained that the inability of the State Independent Electoral Commission to conduct the local government election due to paucity of funds, necessitated the need to appoint the Caretaker Committee Chairmen, following the expiration of the tenure of their predecessors.
He also noted that, the tour of communities during the campaigns afforded the government the opportunity to appreciate the challenges facing rural dwellers and urged the chairmen to seek ways of improving the standard of living of the people.
The Governor, who also enjoined the chairmen not to embark on what he called, gigantic projects, said it would not be feasible in the face of dwindling revenues from the federation account and urged them to support the on-going sanitation efforts.
Wife of the Governor, Dr. Rachel Dickson expressed appreciation to her husband for giving women the opportunity to serve and prove their mettle, stressing that, the confidence reposed in them is not misplaced.
In his response, Caretaker Committee Chairman of Nembe LG council, Chief Walter Kuroaghofa-Benwari promised to work relentlessly to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.